01 December 2008

Rhesus macaque at Rishikesh

Rhesus macaque
In her comment on the photo of the Tibetan wolf, RR mentioned how she'd tried to avoid anthropomorphism. It can be difficult with dogs, but it's hardest of all with monkeys.

All content © 2008 Pete McGregor


Emma said...

Quite right -- case in point, this page loaded and my son immediately went into paroxysms of laughter, saying, "Hi, monkey! What are you doing in the computer?"

pohanginapete said...

Emma, that's brilliant! It's made my day :^D

lesley said...

And I looked and thought, "What a wonderful curl to the sideburns."

Relatively Retiring said...

Without the faintest hint of anthropomorphism that somewhat jaded look says, 'Yeah, whatever....'

Zhoen said...

Feels less like anthropomorphism than just not trying to draw a line separating us from "animals" as though we were not any relation to them, not part of them. Clearly, we are, and we share their emotions.

Anne-Marie said...

Great photo ... but this image makes me feel uneasy. There's some thing about the macaque's eyes and the expression in them that gives me the creeps. He's almost TOO human.

Why that should make me feel uneasy, I'm not sure.

pohanginapete said...

Lesley, I'm sure the (human) locals recognise many of these monkeys by characteristic features like the sideburns. I was there for only a few days and had begun to recognise some individuals.

RR, that look has so many possible meanings I wouldn't even begin to guess.

Zhoen, yes, I'm sceptical of the pseudo-objective attitude that refuses to credit animals with any kind of emotions similar to humans. It's useful as a caution not to jump to conclusions, but as we learn more about animals, it becomes harder to defend the extreme anti-anthropomorphic position. Anyone with a cat knows that ;^)

Anne-Marie, you'd be right to feel uneasy around some of these monkeys. I never had problems, but in some places — mostly those frequented by large numbers of tourists — they can be aggressive. A bite from one, apart from being unpleasant, would require a series of rabies shots, even if you're pre-vaccinated.
I will point out that for most animals, a direct gaze is a threat. I'd have felt more apprehensive if this guy had been staring directly at me (although I was at a reasonable distance — big lenses, although a pain to lug around, have definite benefits).